Sunday, May 24, 2020

Where I've Been, AKA What a Long Strange Trip.....

   Well, the last time I posted here I was busily working my Homdoor Tandoor oven turning out naan bread with a lot of other dishes planned. That was the before picture.  A couple of days after I baked that delicious naan bread I got sick. It all started with a sore throat and quickly migrated to a cough, that was when I called my doctor, who checked with the Health Department and sent me to the hospital ER, masked, for a covid test.
   Alan dropped me at the emergency entrance (he was not allowed inside) and I was seen and questioned by an ER doctor who asked about fever, trouble breathing etc. I said I had no fever, no trouble breathing, in fact a couple of days before I got sick I did my 6 miles and felt great. For a few days however my stomach had been bothering me and I was having some trouble tasting things. Nobody asked me about any of that at the time, because those weren't things being asked back on March 9th.

   I was swabbed and tested negative for flu A and flu B, and finally for covid19. I was taken out masked through the ambulance bay so as not to come in contact with anyone. Alan was there to pick me up and they gave him a mask before letting me in the car to go home. I was told to isolate in a room until my test results came back. The results would be in in 2 to 3 days. I went home and immediately started isolating in the master bedroom, which has it's own bath so I would be out of everyones way. Fortunately we can do that. We have the room and the bathrooms. I grew up in a very small house with 3 generations. So we had 6 people and 1 bathroom, and nowhere to really be alone if one wanted to. It would be impossible to isolate as they wanted me to do back then.
   So I isolated, and the cough got worse, and pretty soon I was having chills and a low grade fever, and whatever it was had started going to town on my digestive tract. I communicated via Facetime, meals were delivered (not that I was eating much) with gloves and a mask and left in the upstairs hall outside the door. I'd open the door a crack, and take them in wearing a mask and gloves.
   Days passed, and I got more miserable. I was waking up in the middle of the night sweating, and I was sleeping most of the day.  I kept calling the hospital trying to find out my test results, and kept being told, they had no results yet. Finally, after 11 days in isolation, the hospital called at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night and told me I tested negative. Great I thought, but I still feel like hammered dog meat.  If this wasn't covid, what the heck was going on? I didn't leave my isolation room as I didn't want to get anyone sick, and I'm glad I didn't.
   Three days later the hospital called again, a cheerful voice told me I was negative. I said you guys already called me on Saturday and gave me this information. The voice said, "oh no, this is new information". Oooooohkaaaaay. I guess. This worried me, I was also worried as I wasn't getting any better and my gut issues were getting worse. Over the next two weeks the hospital called me twice more, both times giving me the good news I was negative and insisting this was all new information.
   A friend of mine who's a doctor said...hmmmmmmmm that sounds very weird, and not correct. Meanwhile, I was still in the bedoom, as I felt so sick and wasn't capable of going anywhere anyway. Every few days toward the end of this, I'd feel slightly better, I'd get out of bed, walk around the room, make a phone call. I thought. I'm done with this. Them the fever would come back and I'd be back in bed for another three days. My Internist tried different things to get to the bottom of what was wrong but nothing worked. One day when things were really bad, I called and got another doctor I'd not met before who did a telemedicine visit and prescribed a Z pack. Three hours after taking the Z pack I was sicker than before and the next day my own doctor sent me to a GI specialist.
   Around that time I was texting with some people I know through cancerworld who described similar symptoms to mine. Like exactly the same problems. One person lived in Wa  state and had not been tested but described being sick for close to 2 months. We then had a doctor join us on line and tell us about a percentage of covid19 cases, that instead of going to the lungs and causing pneumonia, went instead to the gut and did their own nasty  thing there. The doctor sent us a 23 page  study from the American journal of gastroenterology where they were describing covid19 in the gut. It sounded like a match. He'd explained that the false negative results from the testing being done was about 30%, and the swabbing of the nose, didn't often pick up stuff going on in the gut.  That required another type of test that none of us had had. So we were left with the knowledge that we might have had covid19 in a place where a lot of people weren't exactly looking at the time.

   We know now that it's a nasty bug that can attack a lot of different places. Gradually after about 8 weeks, the cough was gone, the fevers were gone,  but I was still  left with gut trouble. I had also dropped a lot of weight from not being able to eat. I don't weigh that much to begin with so that wasn't great. The GI guy wanted to do an upper endoscopy to see what was going off to the  outpatient surgical center I went. They did a great job at the hospital, everything was done carefully, no touching doors, elevators etc. I felt very secure having the procedure done.Turns out I had a great deal of inflammation, likely a result of whatever I had had. I am on my last week of medication, which has settled everything down. I'm back working out again, and I took my bike out for the first time (masked) yesterday.
   I was also advised to get an antibody test when a good one is available. Did I have covid?     
Some of those who treated me think maybe yes I did. From what I've read since, it would not surprise me, as I was as sick as I'd ever been. Officially, I don't really know. I do know I was sick, sick, sick for about 8 weeks. I felt worse than I ever had when I was having chemo, so there's that.  And then there's the mysterious other places covid goes, and the mystery of the continuing calls from the hospital every few days, telling me the "new information" that I was Negative!!!! Huzzah!
   Either way, I am better now. Every day I'm stronger, and there are no more relapses.  I am starting to cook again. Alan learned to cook through reading my blog recipes, and chatting with me on Facetime. He's learned well. The dog was staring at me as if he'd never seen me before when I finally emerged from the room, but a few treats in the right direction and we're all good now. I'm back at work writing with Alan, baking  a freaking ton of bread like everyone else...

...and getting out in the neighborhood, walking over to the neighboring farm and  visiting the critters.

So take care, I'm going to be firing up the Tandoor soon and doing a lot of shelf stable cooking!
 Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, March 7, 2020

A Home Baked Naan Recipe, As I Have Fun With The Homdoor Tandoor Oven

   I've been cooking Indian food for 30 years. I started eating Indian food when i was diagnosed with cancer back in 1990. I was a vegetarian and having problems with the combination of chemo and a macrobiotic diet, so my oncologist suggested I try cooking Indian food since I could have all the vegetarian/vegan dishes I wanted and still get plenty of nourishment.  So my sister in law the Indologist, who's lived and worked in India for many years, came out from NY and got me started with books. After that I began to haunt the Baharat Baazar. aka now called  Samosa House in Culver City.

When I used to go there it was a tiny place jammed with everything I could possibly want.

   Founded in 1979, it was the first ethnic Indian grocery in southern California. It was also located next to a coffin store, and the owner would lean in the doorway and when I went shopping for Indian groceries he would try to get me to come in and check out the latest casket models. Evidently, the passersby had the same reaction I did, as the coffin store is gone and Baharat Baazar/ Samosa House now occupies most of the block. In fact, it's now one of the largest Indian markets in Southern California, and boy , do I miss it.  Every time I'm in LA for business I always shop and carry back a bunch of hard to find goods. If you're in LA or planning on visiting... check it out.

   Phulan Chander who started with store with her husband Ramesh, guided me in my Indian shopping and cooking. She offered tips and suggestions, and recipes when she saw that I was serious about learning traditional Indian vegetarian cuisine and not just some daffy Westside white girl trying to have an adventure. If it weren't for them I wouldn't have learned as much. She gave me the confidence to try dishes, foods and techniques I'd never had before. The one thing I never had however was a for real tandoor oven.
   When the folks at Homdoor Tandoor Ovens  asked me if I'd like one of their ovens to work with I said you betcha!!! The Tandoor oven arrived in a big packing case with all the required implements. It moved into the garden near my vegetable beds and hibernated in it's canvas cover.

Finally after a cold and rainy Sonoma winter, I was able to fire it up last weekend and for the first time after baking naan bread for several decades I was able to actually slap it against the wall of a genuine tandoor oven.

So here's what happened, and how to make great Naan Bread, with a very simple recipe.

Indian Naan Bread

Here's What You Need:

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps active dry yeast
3 and 1/2 cups of flour, plus a bit extra for the rolling out process.
2 tsps salt
1 cup of full fat plain yogurt
melted ghee and nigella seeds for seasoning

Here's What To Do:

Mix the water and sugar in a small  measuring cup.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

While that is happening, combine the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Attach the dough hook.

Okay, this is the miracle for me. For years I thought stand mixers were just bougie and why not  just knead stuff manually. After all that's why we have arms right?  Then Alan bought me a stand mixer as a gift. I had already said that I thought it wasn't necessary and then I tried it!! Omg!! Who cares if I never go to the gun show, nobody looks at my biceps anyway. I loved it!
Add the yeast mixture and the yogurt to the flour mixture.

Mix the dough on medium speed until it comes together, then increase the speed and let it knead for about 10 minutes all in.

Take a small amount of vegetable oil and oil the inside of a large bowl.

I used about a cap full and then just smeared it around the inside.

When the dough is done. It will be somewhat sticky (actually that's an understatement) but this a yogurt based dough. The yogurt is what gives the naan bread it's tang and keeps it from tasting like pizza dough.

So form the dough into a ball...

...and place it in the oiled bowl.
Cover it with a clean dish towel .

Let it rise until it's doubled in size. This takes about 1 hour.

We took the opportunity to take Tyrion the Siberian Husky out for a long walk.
When your dough has risen, flatten it into a disc and divide it into 8 pieces.

Set them on a baking sheet...

...and cover them again to rest while you go light your tandoor oven.

The Homdoor Tandoor I have can be lit either with charcoal or propane. Since Sonoma county is fire central, charcoal wasn't going to be happening. We used the propane option. The burner is lit at the bottom of the oven and the heat is controlled by a grate at the bottom and opening and closing the lid on the top. We used a laser thermometer to give is a reading on the clay interior. The oven had to get to 550 , which it did really fast.

Now To Bake:


I flattened each ball with my hands and stretched the top into a traditional naan teardrop shape.
When the oven reached 550 we were good to go.
The dough was placed on a Gaddi pad  which functions sort of like a baseball mitt.

The dough is draped on top of the pad. The Gaddi pad is believe me the only way you want to get near an oven that hot. I checked my temperature with the laser thermometer.

The dough is then slapped on the oven wall where it will stick and cook.

The dough cooks fast.
When it starts to bubble and char, it's ready.

Using the bread tools, which are a long rod with a small spatula at the end and a bread hook remove the naan by hooking and prying it gently off the oven wall.

Got it!

Place the  naan in a basket to keep warm...

...brush it with ghee...

...and a sprinkling of nigella seeds.

And serve it up.

Getting this Naan bread fresh and hot out of the tandoor I realized what I'd been missing all those years of just using an oven set at 550 degrees and a pizza stone. There's no comparison.
I'm going to be posting tandoor recipes on the blog once a month as I explore the world of authentic tandoor cooking which thanks to the Homdoor residential tandoor oven can be found right in your very own back yard.
Coming up next another fish curry this time, not a dry curry, but a wet curry and yes there's a difference.  Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Homdoor Has Landed!!!

   A few months ago the good people at Homdoor  the makers of the tandoor oven for business and home, sent me my very own home tandoor.  We moved it to the garden, and after a few months of rain, freezing temps, and winds, it's now opening for business. In short, I'm learning how to use it. I've been cooking Indian food now for 30 years and have always been curious about a tandoor oven, fantasized about having one and now....ta da!!!! I've got one! There's a big difference between baking naan bread in a jerry-rigged home brick oven using pizza stones, and a tandoor that heats up super hot and super fast. First off, all things cook waaaaaay faster, secondly it's just fun to use.

   Last Saturday I decided to fire it up for the first time. My model runs on propane. It can also be used with regular charcoal, but since we live in Sonoma Country which is wildfire central the last several years, propane is our chosen fuel. I decided to start off with some naan bread, since I'm used to baking that but  baking it on the clay walls of a tandoor was quite a bit different. Last Saturdays' practice session was an adventure. Tomorrow I'm going to be baking with my tandoor again and will be able to show you all the action.
   So here is what some real tandoor baked naan turned out like on my first attempt using  the Homdoor Tandoor oven!

Brushed with a bit of melted ghee, it was a delight!!

So, stay tuned...more naan to come.
Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori


Monday, January 20, 2020

When The Weather Gets Cold, Find The Sun In A Salad Bowl

   It's been rainy, gloomy, foggy, damp, dank and all the other winter weather descriptions we get out here in Northern California, but at least we're currently cold and NOT on fire. After seeing the horrific destruction in Australia we're grateful over here for small mercies. When the weather gets cold in California we're not as cold as my in-laws back east get, but we're plenty cold for us, and cold weather doesn't always have to mean soups or stews. Sometimes one just has to look into a salad bowl to find a little sunshine, and the bright colors and snappy flavor of this Thai Salad made with winter vegetables can save the day.

  We eat a lot of greens around here. Cabbage, kale, chard, are abundant right now, and so are  mangoes. The mangoes are at their best price right now so if you make mango chutney, now's the time to start canning. There's more to mangoes than chutney however, and they really know how to work it in this salad. So, if you can't find any sunshine or bright colors out the window, try looking for them in your salad bowl with this simple Thai  salad.

 Thai Salad

Here's What You Need:

2 cups of thinly sliced Kale
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 and 1/2 cups of thinly sliced red cabbage
1 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 Tbs thinly sliced green onions
1 mango cubed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup of raw peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1/3 cup of peanut butter, your choice chunky or smooth
2 Tbs lime juice
3 Tbs honey
1 and 1/2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp kasmiri chile or a combo or cayenne and paprika mixed
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 Tbs water

Here's What To Do:


Mix all the salad ingredients together (doesn't get simpler than that) and set it aside.

Put the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, sesame oil, chili, ginger, shallot and water in a blender.
Puree until it's all smooth and creamy.
If you need more water to smooth things out, add it.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the dressing with the salad and serve it up.  Like I said super simple, super sunny, and very tasty.

This is the base, but feel free to add whatever else you'd like, or sub any vegetable, bok choy, savoy cabbage, whatever looks good. You name it. I've never put any meat or fish in this dish but I'm pretty sure that shrimp or chicken would  work great. Either way, it's a shot of Summer in the heart of Winter and don't we all need that once in a while.  Coming up next, a fast go to pasta dish that's in regular rotation at our house.  Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Menage A Chocolate Cake.....aka ...Chocolate Three Ways

   About three years ago I was hired as consultant for a new restaurant that was opening in Sonoma, called CocoaPlanet. It was a gluten free restaurant featuring modern French cuisine. The dishes were to be light, healthy,  many  (but not all) vegetarian or vegan, and above all they were to be gluten free.  It was a good fit, because even though I myself am not gluten free, I have a lot of friends who are, and so had developed my own flour blends for baking and cooking.  I eat mainly a vegetarian, and now since my husband is off the meat, a somewhat pescetarian diet. One thing I did do was make any number of chocolate based desserts since the place was called CocoaPlanet and was the restaurant arm of CocoaPlanet Chocolate.

   I made more chocolate desserts than I had ever made in my entire life up  to that point. Most of the desserts were French but every now and then I would run across something that just couldn't be ignored and when I showed the recipe to the owners they said....can you make that gluten free????? Absolutely. It was a total lock when they saw this recipe from who wrote that it was inspired by Marcel Desaulniers from The Food Network. It was a chocolate extravaganza!

   I never made this for the restaurant, but it was requested a lot by the owners and so this Christmas my husband asked if I'd make it for our holiday dinner and so I did. It's actually quite a simple recipe and can be made ahead which is always a plus. The most important thing about this is to always use  the BEST quality chocolate you can find, since chocolate is all she /he wrote when it comes to this dessert. I made my version gluten free, using my own mix, but this will work with regular flour as well. So without further's my gluten free version

Chocolate Three Ways


Here's What You Need:


The Cake:

3 oz unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
1/4 cup hot water
2 Tbs cocoa powder
3/4 cup of  caster sugar
6 Tbs softened unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour...(regular or gluten free)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

The Mousse:

3/4 tsp gelatin powder
1 Tbs water
6 oz semi sweet chocolate coarsely chopped
2 Tbs caster sugar
1 and 1/2 cups cold whipping cream

The Ganache:

3/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tbs unsalted butter
9 oz semi sweet chocolate coarsely chopped

Here's What To Do:


This cake is made in stages. First the cake is baked and cooled in the  springform pan.
Then the mousse is made and added to the top of the cooled cake still in the pan, and chilled to set. Then the ganache is poured on top of the chilled mousse (still in the pan) and set to chill in the fridge until the whole thing is un-molded and served!  Very straight forward and actually simple in principal. So Here Goes:

The Cake: 


Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to  350 degrees.

Lightly grease and flour an 8 inch springform  pan. Tap out any excess flour.

Put the chocolate into a small heat-proof bowl, bring the water to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Stir it until the chocolate is melted and smooth. This takes a couple of minutes.

Then stir in your cocoa powder and whisk it until it's smooth.
Finally, add in 1/4 cup of the sugar and stir it up until it's thick and glossy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the remaining sugar ( 1/2 cup) together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time making sure they're well mixed into the batter.

Add in the vanilla.

Add in your chocolate mixture and blend until it's thoroughly combined.

 In a small bowl mix the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Stir it together with a whisk.

Add half of the flour mixture to the batter, followed by the buttermilk. Blend together until it's all mixed, then add the rest of the flour and blend until it's combined.

Pour the batter into the prepped cake pan, and smooth it out.

Bake it for 25 or 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake still in the pan, to room temperature on a wire rack.

The Mousse:


Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 Tbs of water in a small bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Place the 6 oz of chopped chocolate and the sugar in a medium bowl.

Bring 1/2 cup of the whipping cream to a simmer over a medium-high heat then take the pan off the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture. Stir it until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and sugar and whisk until the chocolate has melted and everything is smooth. Cool to room temperature, (the mixture will thicken as it stands).

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat 1 cup of whipping cream at medium speed until it starts to thicken (30 secs or so) then increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form (30 to 60 secs).

Use a whisk to mix 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then use a rubber spatula to fold the rest of the whipped cream in, and fold it gently until no streaks are visible.

Spoon the chocolate mousse into the spring form pan on top of the cooled cake. Smooth the top with an offset spatula and put the whole thing in the fridge to chill until the mousse is set. This takes about 2 hours.

The Ganache:


Heat 3/4 cup of whipping cream and 1 Tbs of unsalted butter in a medium pan over medium high heat. Take it off the heat just before it starts to  boil.

Pour it over the 9 oz of chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Let it cool to room temperature then pour it over the  chilled and set mousse layer in the springform pan.

Refrigerate until set.

 When you're ready to serve, un-mold the cake from the spring form pan.

Serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and some fresh strawberries.

This was a huge hit at the end of Christmas dinner.
Even though this recipe has multiple steps, the reason I consider it easy to make is that it's made in stages, it can be made ahead and it's damn delicious!
So there's your year end chocolate fix just in time for New Years Eve!!
Coming up next more cooking, and some year end party treats! Stay tuned.
Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Cheap , Fast, and Totally In Control Scallops With Rice Ramen

   We're in the midst of a lot of work. In between fire evacuations, and PG&E blackouts, we've been trying to get a TV pilot finished and out of the house. Since I cook most days, I always need things that can be cooked up quickly with minimum fuss and with ingredients I already have in hand. I keep a lot of fish in my freezer since Alan has switched to a piscetarian diet. I always have vegetables and herbs in the garden and I am now a huge fan of  these cheaper than cheap Rice Ramen Noodles from Lotus Foods. 

   I started buying these for myself a few years ago when I wanted something easy and quick to mix with some vegetables for my dinner. Now I keep them in the house as a change from basmati rice in some dishes. The noodles are gluten-free and come in a variety of types. They're a great thing to keep in the pantry for a fast meal in a pinch,  plus did I say cheap?

   Which brings me to this recipe. I originally found it in the NYT, a nostalgic piece about the menu at the Windows on the World Restaurant at the World Trade Center. They evidently served a delicious sea scallop appetizer. After reading the recipe I thought why the heck can't this just be an entree served with rice or rice noodles. Which brings me to another sale item. There was a sale at our local whole foods on big wild caught sea scallops, so I picked a few up. 4 per person seemed about right and I set about cooking.

Scallops in Brown Butter with Capers, and Lemon

Here's What You Need:

8 large sea scallops
4 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs finely chopped shallot
2  Tbs capers rinsed of excess salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup chopped  Italian parsley

Here's What To Do:

Pat the scallops dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add the olive oil to a large pan.
When the oil is hot, add in the scallops. A few at a time is necessary so that they have elbow room even though scallops do not have elbows - you know what I mean.

When the scallops have cooked through, take then out of the pan and keep them warm while you finish the dish.
Add  your shallots and butter to the pan you cooked the scallops in.

When the butter has browned and foamed, add in the capers...

...and the lemon juice...

...and the chopped parsley.

I cooked my ramen noodles for about 4 minutes.

When they were done, I drained them and rinsed them under cool water.

I put everything back in the pan for a few minutes just to warm things up...

...then plated it.

Spoon the sauce over the scallops and the ramen noodles, (or rice if you're using that) and serve it up.

   This was crazy fast and if one is cooking on a weekday, you can't save more time than this. It's on regular rotation at our house, and it can even be a simple yet elegant company dinner for friends. Speaking of friends, coming up next, I'll have  some holiday favorites for all the celebrating that's heading toward us. Meanwhile follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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